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Lecture 19

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McGill University
ANTH 203
Michael Bisson

Homo erectus/ergaster Middle Pleistocene 1.8 MYA to 3kya Eugene Dubois Pithecanthropus erectus On Java Davidson Black Homo erectus Beijing African specimens = homo ergaster Earliest date are 1.8 MYA Dmanisi site (Georgia) 1.78 MYA Smallest brains Asian specimens = homo erectus Zhoukoudian site European specimens = homo heidelbergensis Three explanations why ergaster and erectus appear at the same time, even though ergaster must be the ancestor of erectus Some or all the dates are wrong H. ergaster expanded out of Africa very rapidly The expansion out of Africa actually occurred before 2 MYA and involved Homo habilis Homo Erectus Skeletal characteristics Elongated skull with tear-drop shape Brain size 800-1200 cc Supra-orbital ridges are large and increase in thickness over time Premolars and molars are smaller relative to skull size than in earlier hominids Cusp counts are identical to modern humans First hominids with modern body proportions Arm and leg lengths ratios Foot prints are identical to modern humans Very strong muscles Strong sexual dimorphism Significant geographical variation Genetic isolation might be the cause Acheulan core tool Mode 2 In East Asia, they still retain the Mode 1 technology Hunting and Innovations Appears after 1.5 MYA Increase in muscularity permits use of spears and clubs for close combat killing Modern body proportions are useful in long-distance endurance chases Wooden spears present 400 kya All associated with large mammal bones Fire Nature fires used at 1.5 MYA Manufacture of fire by 7-800 kya Cooking by 770,000 maybe? Estimation of Zhoukoudian sites to 770,000 to 200,000 earlier than previous estimates Very cold climate at that time, so fire would have been necessary for survival Social Organization Monogamous nuclear family Sexual dimorphism starts to reduce Encephalization Proportionally larger brains EQ of modern humans compared to great apes is c.3, because body weig
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